Blast from the Past: A Look at the Best PSU-OSU Games
I’m sure you’ve heard, but Penn State will travel to Columbus this Saturday to take on the undefeated Buckeyes. The challenge of facing an undefeated team on the road in primetime, momentum from the big win against Michigan, and a freshman quarterback leading his team against an NFL prospect is a recipe for an instant classic.
In anticipation for Saturday’s game, we’ve compiled some of the biggest wins over Ohio State in the last 20 years.
1994: Penn State was ranked No. 1 and needed a win to stay at the top. The Nittany Lions walked out of this game with the largest margin ever in a win against Ohio State, putting up 63 points to Ohio State’s 14. Ki-Jana Carter ran for 137 yards and four touchdowns on 19 carries, while quarterback Kerry Collins went 19-23 for 265 yards and two touchdowns. Penn State went on to rank second that year and won the Rose Bowl, finishing the season a perfect 11-0.
1997: This matchup seems to be one that is often forgotten, despite the No. 2 Nittany Lions beat the No. 7 Buckeyes in dramatic fashion. With 16 minutes left in the game, Penn State was down 27-17, but Aaron Harris had a spectacular 51-yard TD down the sideline to make it 27-23. In the 4th quarter, running back Curtis Enis scored the go-ahead touchdown, and Penn State ended up winning 31-27.
2001: This was a big game for the Nittany Lions who were playing for more than just the rivalry, but also for JoePa’s 324th victory that would make him the winningest coach in collegiate football history. Penn State was in the midst of a rough season, starting 0-4 and dealing with quarterback problems under Matt Senneca. With less than three minutes to play, Ohio State went to kick what would have been a game winning field goal but defensive back Bryan Scott blocked it. Capitalizing off the blocked kick, backup quarterback Zach Mills led his team to the end zone and a 29-27 Penn State victory.
2005: This game is always the first to be mentioned when the topic of best games at Beaver Stadium comes up. Penn State was coming off a rough couple of seasons, but with Michael Robinson at the helm, they had a new spark. The team started the season off 5-0 and looked to continue the winning streak against its toughest opponent. After an early Ohio State field goal, the Nittany Lions responded with a 13-yard touchdown run from Derrick Williams to take the lead. The game continued to be a battle of the defenses and it seemed as if each team would keep exchanging punts, but with 3:48 left in the game the Buckeyes were only down by a touchdown. OSU’s quarterback Troy Smith, with help from future NFL player Santonio Holmes, drove deep into Penn State territory, poised to tie the game up. Penn State’s defense came through big and made one of the most iconic plays in Penn State history. Tamba Hali sacked Smith in the backfield forcing a fumble and teammate Scott Paxson fell on the ball to give the Lions possession and the victory. The Lions went on to finish the season 11-1 and win the Orange Bowl, ushering in a new era of Penn State football.
2008: This was the first time Penn State came out with a win in Columbus since joining the Big Ten in 1993. Like others in years past, it was a game for defenses and crazy plays. Starting Quarterback, Daryll Clark was injured in the fourth quarter and was replaced by Pat Devlin. Ohio State had the ball and a three-point lead when Terrelle Pryor fumbled and defensive back Mark Rubin knocked the ball away with teammate NaVorro Bowman falling on the loose ball at the Buckeyes’ 38. Devlin led a seven-play drive that ended with a touchdown giving Penn State a 10-6 lead with 6:25 left. Penn State’s defense then forced an Ohio State punt. While the Buckeyes were using all its timeouts, the Nittany Lions continued to run the ball and let the clock run down before Kevin Kelly converted a 35-yard field goal with 1:07 left to push the lead to 13-6.
2011: Emotions were high for the Nittany Lions as it was the first victory without head coach Joe Paterno. Stephfon Green ran for two touchdowns and the Nittany Lions held Ohio State scoreless in the second half of the 20-14 victory. Ohio State fell behind 10-0 when McGloin drove the Nittany Lions 54 yards and Anthony Fera converted a career-best 43-yard field goal. He would later top that by closing the half with a 46-yarder. The Nittany Lions earned a share of the Big Ten Leaders Division title, and Tom Bradley earned what would be his only win as interim head coach.
Here’s hoping this weekend’s game will make the list!